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Addiction & Pregnancy: Putting Two Lives at Risk


Drug and alcohol addiction can be dangerous regardless of your age, gender, or health. These substances take a toll both physically and mentally and can lead to a range of potentially serious problems, including the risk of overdose. For women who are pregnant, however, they are not only putting themselves at risk, they are also putting their unborn child at risk. Researchers have not found any amount of alcohol to be safe during pregnancy and certain drugs pose dangers as well. Treatment at a California drug and alcohol rehab center is a necessary step in improving the health and wellbeing of both mother and child.

There are many ways that addiction can interfere with pregnancy:

Not receiving proper care: Women who are struggling with addiction may not seek out appropriate medical care when pregnant, especially if they are in denial about their addiction or do not want others to know. They may be unsure of what would happen and worried about the changes they would have to make.

Drugs and alcohol can also affect nutrition. The woman may not be eating properly and getting enough nutrients to keep both her and the baby healthy. Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and process certain nutrients. It can also take a toll on liver health. Because both the mother and unborn child share blood, what is in the woman’s bloodstream can be passed to the baby. These can all impact the baby’s development and health.

Effects of withdrawal: One reason that some people continue misusing different substances is because they fear withdrawal. Once they start to feel these unpleasant effects, they continue using to make them subside. For women who are pregnant, they are not the only one who experiences withdrawal. The baby can as well. If the mother has physical and emotional distress, it can stress the baby too and lead to complications, miscarriage, or premature labor.

Once the baby is born it can go through neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) as it experiences withdrawal from the substances the mother was using. Following birth some of the following conditions may emerge:

  • Breathing problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Excessive crying
  • Seizures
  • Weight gain problems
  • Eating problems

It is important that they receive help immediately and that the medical staff knows that addiction during pregnancy was an issue so they can provide proper treatment.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs): When a woman drinks during pregnancy, it can put the baby at risk for developing a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The alcohol in the mother’s blood is passed on to the baby and can lead to a range of disabilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), potential issues include:

  • Low birth weight
  • Small head size
  • Small stature
  • Memory problems
  • Abnormal facial features
  • Learning disabilities
  • Attention problems
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Delayed speech or language development

Many of these issues can impact the child throughout its life. They are disabilities that will need to continue to be addressed and managed. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can also lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

Risky decisions: While under the influence of drugs or alcohol, people are more likely to make poor decisions. This can increase risk of illness or injury as well as lead to financial or familial problems. For women who are pregnant, this can put their baby at risk in addition to putting them at risk. Falls or accidents for the average person can lead to injury, but pregnant women could also unintentionally harm their unborn baby as well.

Fortunately, there is help available. Women can seek help from a Southern California drug and alcohol rehab center prior to deciding they are ready for children to improve their health and wellbeing and create a more positive environment. For women who are already pregnant, these facilities can help them to manage and overcome their addiction in a way that reduces risk to their unborn baby and focuses on improving the health of both mother and child. Trying to detox without medical assistance can be dangerous for anyone, but especially women who are pregnant. Trained staff can provide customized care that meets the client’s needs and takes their pregnancy into consideration when creating a treatment plan.

When a woman finds out she is pregnant, or believes she may be, she should aim to stop drinking as soon as possible to support better health. Through treatment she can learn a variety of strategies for staying sober and resisting temptation and cravings. In addition, a relapse prevention plan is created to reduce future risk and address issues that may be faced following treatment.

Chapters Capistrano, a San Clemente drug and alcohol rehab facility, provides medically assisted detox and personalized approaches to treatment to meet each client’s individual needs. Clients are supported along each step of the way to boost recovery efforts and encourage the start of a fresh chapter in their lives. It is possible to overcome addiction and regain control of your life. Contact Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 to make a change today.